The primary line constants are parameters that describe the characteristics of conductive transmission lines, such as pairs of copper wires, in terms of the physical electrical properties of the line. The primary line constants are only relevant to transmission lines and are to be contrasted with the secondary line constants, which can be derived from them, and are more generally applicable. The secondary line constants can be used, for instance, to compare the characteristics of a waveguide to a copper line, whereas the primary constants have no meaning for a waveguide.
The constants are conductor resistance and inductance, and insulator capacitance and conductance, which are by convention given the symbols R, L, C, and G respectively. The constants are enumerated in terms of per unit length. The circuit representation of these elements requires a distributed-element model and consequently calculus must be used to analyse the circuit. The analysis yields a system of two first ord